Microsoft and Yahoo say they now have the world's biggest IM community

Today, both Microsoft and Yahoo have made their respective instant messaging applications compatible with each other. In a joint program, Windows Live Messenger users will be able to communicate with users of Yahoo Messenger, and vice versa. Both companies have said that this is intended to create the world's largest instant messaging community, totally roughly 350 million accounts.

The rollout of new interoperable messaging clients will occur gradually however. While today marks the official day that the two IM clients will be compatible, not all users will have access to this new feature. Both Microsoft and Yahoo stated that the new service is still being tested. According to the press release:

Consumers worldwide from both Microsoft and Yahoo! will be able to take advantage of IM interoperability and join the limited public beta program. These consumers will be among the first to exchange instant messages across the free services, as well as see their friends' online presence, view personal status messages, share select emoticons, view offline messages and add new contacts from either service at no cost.(2) Yahoo! and Microsoft plan to make the interoperability between their respective IM services broadly available to consumers in the coming months.

Yahoo's communications senior vice president Brad Garlinghouse stated that "this marks a big breakthrough and an unprecedented technical achievement. We expect this to grow demand and adoption of IM globally. Interoperability between IM services has consistently topped our users' wish lists, and through the collaborative efforts between Yahoo! and Microsoft we are delighted to provide our combined global users with the ultimate IM experience."

Microsoft's vice president of the Windows Live Platform Blake Irving said "we believe this is a turning point for the IM industry." Users will be able to test out the cross-communications ability by downloading the latest versions of Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger.

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